Frog #11: Night of the Funeral (Part 2)

This post is Part 2 of “Frog #11: Night of the Funeral.” To read Part 1, click here.

The Prisoner

For Flint, things don’t look so good right now.

Bronson, the village blacksmith, has informed Flint that his wife, Hinawa, is dead. Upon hearing the news, Flint lost control, attacking two villagers and attempting to harm a few others. Lighter, Flint’s childhood friend, knocked the cowboy out cold before he could do any further damage, either to those around him, or to himself. Worst of all, Claus and Lucas, Flint’s sons, saw the entire thing.

After a night like that, I assume the only true remedy, for now, is rest.

Unfortunately, the cowboy doesn’t even get that. Or at least not comfortably. I’d say Flint’s had less of a rest and more of a rusty rustle. When he finally wakes up, he’s not in a comfortable bed, nor even on a passable mat. He’s on concrete, sealed in by a metal door. Yes, for all his heroics, Flint becomes the first prisoner in Tazmily’s jail.

I remember getting to this part of Mother 3 for the first time back in 2008 and thinking, “Is this just what I’m doing now? Waiting out my time in jail?” As a 13 year old whose largest stint of time in the clink was in RuneScape (a small cell on the outskirts of Port Sarim–arrested for public intoxication), I saw my life in Mother 3 begin to stretch out in front of me. What if Tazmilians, those laissez faire lackadaisers, forgot me in here?

You’d think with Tazmily’s sincerity they’d just take Flint back to his house, or to a room at the Yado Inn. Lucas and Claus could go to a different location, just in case Flint really had lost his marbles. Maybe I’m underestimating Flint’s anger, but I feel like Tazmily’s response to Flint is insensitive and tone deaf. Or who knows–maybe Flint’s grief over Hinawa’s death, the first tragedy of its kind in Tazmily, is truly the catalyst for change in the villagers, and they’ve already starting to act less from the heart and more out of fear.

The presence of true grief, of genuine anger, at least awakens some kind of insight in the villagers–I’m not sure yet exactly what. Maybe just the good old loss of innocence. And whatever it is, it’s insightful enough to cause peaceful Tazmily to put the town’s resident hero in jail. I thought no one locked their doors around here?

Bronson at least seems to have watched over Flint. He offers up some more flimsy condolences and leaves, telling Flint to come and see him about the Drago’s Fang. Bronson also mentions, again, that he found the Drago Fang in Hinawa’s heart, while wondering why the peaceful Dragos would ever do such a thing. Bronson’s bedside manner is truly awful, but I think it hammers home once again that he just doesn’t get it. He’s never had to say anything like this before, to anybody. It’s like when there’s one thing you want to avoid in a conversation and it always comes up. He’s probably saying to himself, “Don’t mention the Drago Fang in Hinawa’s chest, don’t mention the Drago Fang in Hinawa’s chest…”

Sometimes I also think the villagers mention the Dragos so much to remind the player that they’re supposed to be peaceful animals, as we really only ever see the Dragos once, during the Prologue. In EarthBound 64, we might have been shown the animals in a more peaceful state more often, as we can see in the images where Lucas rides the Dragos. I’ve always gotten the sense from EarthBound 64 footage that the early game, Mother 3’s first 3 chapters, was going to be much longer on the Nintendo 64 version. Perhaps, through gameplay, not just exposition, the player would have come to trust and even to depend upon Tazmily’s scaly friends.

To be fair, I forgot to document the Dragos from the prologue properly in my images; they do walk around near Alec’s house, and they’re as peaceful as could be. However, I feel like EarthBound64 plays up Lucas’s “connection to nature” a little more even in its trailer.

Anyway, Bronson heads out, leaving the player to control Flint for a little while. Just like real jail, there’s not much to do other than pace around and wait. Thankfully, the in jail is not very long at all–barely a few second of actual gameplay. Still, I bet you didn’t think you’d be doing this in Chapter 1 of Mother 3.

Before long, Claus shows up with an apple, which he nonchalantly sets on the sill of the cell window. Claus promises his father that he’ll become stronger, so strong that even Dragos won’t be able to hurt him. He encourages his father to eat the entire apple, even the core, and leaves. He really, really emphasizes the core.

I wish I could say more about this scene. The more I play Mother 3, the more I appreciate Claus as a character. I love that Claus comes here without Lucas, showing the divide between the brave brother and the (sorry Lucas) crybaby–I mean, less brave brother. I also love that, through Claus’s dialogue, we can tell that something big is on his mind, that he’s planning something and not fully letting on what he’s up to. Claus follows his whims and acts with his heart. Once he has decided something is important, he’s going to get it done no matter what. Claus is courageous, bold, and fearless, perhaps to a fault.

In short, he’s a good kid.

Speaking of his dad, even though I love Flint as a silent hero for what it adds to the Hinawa reveal scene, and for what it adds to Chapter 1 over all, Claus’s visit in the Tazmily jail is a moment where I wonder what could have been if Flint actually had dialogue. I could see Claus as being capable of having a more adult conversation with his father, even though in this scene he just leaves the apple and heads out. Claus possesses a forthrightness that Lucas doesn’t, and I would’ve loved to see that on a larger display here, in dialogue with his dad. Just as the Mother series is finally letting us see, and actually play as, someone’s father, we don’t even get to see him talk to his sons!

All I’m saying is, Flint talks in chapters where we don’t control him, so I’ve always wondered what he might say here. I’m sure Itoi wants us to fill in the blanks ourselves, but because Claus and Flint are interesting and tragic characters, who get so little screen time together, I feel like we do miss out on a bit by never seeing them share any dialogue. Though it’s also possible that Flint should be interpreted as literally silent in this scene. He has only been awake for a few minutes, and I’m sure he has no idea what to say to either of his sons. On top of that, he didn’t exactly fall asleep last night–he was knocked out by a piece of lumber.

Still–I wonder what type of relationship Flint and Claus have. Mother 3 consistently portrays Lucas as the mama’s boy, so I wonder if Claus has a stronger bond, then, with Flint. You have to admit: it’s pretty badass that Claus breaks his father out of jail (there’s a hand file in the apple) before running off and vowing to “get stronger.” It’s cool that Claus came to the jail in the first place, with an escape plan already figured out. At least in the sense of being a “reckless nice guy,” Claus is his father’s son.

And, if we are to interpret Flint as literally silent in this scene, then that’s kind of sad as well, seeing as, right after leaving the jail cell, Claus runs off into the mountains alone. Yes, when the action picks back up in Chapter 1, we’re going to be hunting down Claus in the Sunshine Forest to see where he’s gotten off to. Maybe there’s a different world where Claus and Flint talk for a moment, and no one sets off alone.

Anyway, Flint rubs the apple on his shirt, bites into it, and, lo and behold, crunches right into a nail file. The *crunch* sound effect here is one of the Gameboy Advance’s greatest accomplishments, right next to its cheesy horn sections. Flint’s expression after biting the apple has also always cracked me up–his mouth is a perfect O!

So Flint uses the file to break himself out of jail, and I’ve always wondered what the plan was, here. When was Bronson going to let Flint out? What if Flint missed Hinawa’s funeral entirely? Again, I guess Flint technically committed a crime in the form of battery with a campfire log, but come on. Flint wouldn’t hurt a fly.

He’d hurt a mouse with fly wings attached to it, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

From here, we have a funeral to go to, we have sons to look out for, we have Tazmilians to talk to… We have a lot of Tazmilians to talk to, actually. I wonder how many there are, these days.

Three Million Tazmilians (or: A Million Tazmilians III)

I know I’ve said in the past that I love talking to the non-playable characters of the Mother series, and I do, but for this week’s Frog Forecast, I’ve gotta say: I feel like I was talking forever.

See, I feel like, though this is my eleventh gameplay session for Frog by Frog, this spot of the game could be many players’ first real break. I bet you can make it to here in about an hour or so, and seeing as there was recently a boss fight and a cutscene, it also makes sense for the pacing to slow down. I think that’s why this part of the game was difficult to document enthusiastically.

Not yet, anyway! I have a massive hit planned for Thomas’s Bazaar…

For me, playing Frog by Frog presented two challenges this time. First, and as I’m sure you can guess, this session was a bit of a slog because it took me so long to find a new frog. If I was playing at my own whims, I would have had many chances to save my game. I think I have literally revisited almost every frog I’ve seen so far. In the past, when I tried test runs of writing Frog by Frog journal entries, I sometimes played this way–saving literally any time I saw a frog. I amended the rules for this blog so that I’d always have substantial forward motion, but both methods have their ups and downs. I decided against the original method because there are some frogs who you’ll naturally encounter just running around and playing the game, and I started to feel like I was extending, or ending, gameplay sessions too arbitrarily.

The other thing that brings the pacing down is that every interaction is a huge bummer. The cutscene about Hinawa’s death, the short scene of her funeral, seeing Lucas looks so sad… Everything makes me want to take a break for a couple minutes. I mean, yes, as we learn at Hinawa’s funeral, Claus has now taken off into the mountains to avenge his mother, so that’s some forward plot momentum, but still. The emotions are heavy. Everyone’s exhausted. There’s a tense, depressive anxiety in the air. The song “Sorrowful Family” sums up the emotions of not only Lucas, Claus, and Flint, but also everyone in town. Tazmily, in a way, is like a big family, and everyone is sad.

Duster, the first character you talk to outside of the jail, tells you that Hinawa’s burial went fine, but Lucas has been crying at her grave ever since, his little heart broken in two. Duster then offers to help out absolutely any time you might need him, which I wish I could take him up on. Duster would be a great help during the coming trials of Chapter 1, but we’ll catch up with the Wall Stapler himself in Chapter 2.

Like I said before, I think I’ll wait to talk about Duster at length until the next chapter, but, by the time Duster becomes our focal character, he’ll be the silent one (your primary character in a Mother game is always silent). I’m pointing this out because, even though we can’t see the full interaction between the two character yet (Chapter 2 reveals when Flint says and, spoilers, it isn’t much) I simply like seeing the two character interact. Again, I’d be interested to know what Flint says in response! I at least want someone to acknowledge the gigantic robotic caribou we fought last night. We really shared something out there in the Tazmily mountains! Didn’t that mean anything to anyone else?

Well, we’ve talked about some Tazmilians, or at least one, so now let’s talk about signs. There’s the sign outside the jail (the “Sheriff’s Office,” as it is labelled) that says, “Sheriff NOT wanted! After all, there’s no crime!” And there’s also the sign (or a collection of talking animal bones) outside Reggie’s house, which says, “*Clackety *Clackety* (This is Reggie’s house).”

Oh, were you not wanting to talk about signs? Is this section not labelled “A Million Signs?” I guess I shouldn’t get too far from the point: these Tazmilians. Plus, some people say you can find a sign no matter where you look. The universe sends us signs all the time if we learn how to tune our vibrational dial to their frequency.

Speaking of character’s tuned into the universe’s frequency, we did meet a new Tazmilian today. A little girl named Nana. She likes the ocean.

And that’s about all we learn about her for now. You may not think Nana is talkative around Flint, but just wait until you get her around Lucas.

I enjoy meeting the children of Tazmily. One little girl later in the chapter mentions talking to Claus, and how he told her he would be gone for “a while.” What is a while, she asks Flint, does that mean tomorrow?

I always forget that Lucas and Claus aren’t the only children in the story of Mother 3. How much time do the two brothers spend with the other kids? Do they play everyday? Do Lucas and Claus stay on the family farm most of the time? The Mother Forever character page for the Nintendo 64 version of Mother 3 says that Claus is the more social of the two brothers, often talking to other children in town (this page also mentions that Claus is the one who named Boney, which I love). I think this makes sense for Claus. He seems like the kind of kid who wants his ear to the ground for any developments in town, and I enjoy that that detail about Claus comes through, at least in reference, from the little girl later in the chapter.

But compared to the other children, just like their father, Lucas and Claus have changed overnight. They are entirely new people. Their mother has died. They likely saw their mother die. They aren’t just Tazmilian kids anymore.

And that’s where Nana comes in. See, the other children do start to seem different from Lucas and Claus, who have been forced to mature beyond their years. Nana, however, maintains a mystique around her. She’s a little mysterious. Why does she feel so connected to the ocean? Why does she stand out here alone all the time? Where are her parents? We’ll learn more about her as we go–not necessarily a lot, but at least a little.

I guess I just like how Tazmily has such a range of characters. Even among the children, there’s an outsider in Nana. Unlike the other kids, Nana is never shown with parents, nor with an actual place of residence. She just hangs out by the ocean, always ready for a chat. For a long time, I thought her mother was Nan, but I turned out to be wrong.

As some trivia, however, I have recently learned more about Nana. In EarthBound 64, she was originally meant to have a slightly larger role in the story, as I’m sure many Tazmilians were. Here is a description of Nana and Papa from Mother Forever, giving some insight into Nana’s original arc:

Papa, a forty-year-old sailor, and his daughter Nana are close friends of Lucas’ family, living west of Tazmily. Nana is quite shy and short of words, but enjoys the company of the twins regardless. A year and a half before the events of MOTHER 64, Papa went missing one morning, the only trinket left behind being the photo seen above.

Not to jump too much into speculation, but in EarthBound 64 there was also a planned Kraken monster, which may have tied into this subplot. My guess, and the hypothesis of many EarthBound 64 enthusiasts, is that the pre-time skip portion of Mother 3 was originally going to feature more character development of Lucas, Claus, and Tazmily as a whole. My guess is that the search for Papa might have been a part of the game, or even a side quest, you could learn about from the enigmatic Nana.

Image credit to motherforever.net

I suppose we’ll never know what was intended for the Kraken, or for Nana and Papa, but I think we can also infer a little bit from the name, The Nowhere Islands.

Mother 3, to me, has always felt like it takes place more-so on a Nowhere Island. Sure, there’s a trek to a different island later in the game, but EarthBound 64 actually had planned content around additional islands and villages. Another quote from Mother Forever, which details a page in The Mother 3 Times, a serialized promotion for the game, also states:

Page 1 of Volume 6 [of the Mother 3 Times] has a spread detailing the rescue of Lighter and Fuel, who went missing 5 kilometers offshore Great Scale Village in their fishing boat. During the voyage, they were attacked by some large, mysterious creature. While the two of them were taken to Osohe for recovery, Lighter’s wife Tobacco still remains missing…

See, to me, this makes it seem like the Kraken might have been the first instance of change in Tazmily, because the creature is described as “mysterious.” And whether or not the Kraken was a Pigmask chimera, or just another force altogether, I bet the monster, and the narrative surrounding it, would have given the Nowhere Islands a better sense of scope. Even though Mother 3 does more with its setting, as far a single place changing over time, it still often feels limited. If the Kraken subplot had remained, and there was another village to talk about, maybe this could have been different.

Who knows, maybe the dangerous, two-headed Kraken is what inspired the Pigmasks to make chimeras. Maybe it’s their first chimera. Maybe the Pigmasks took a once peaceful, once one-headed Kraken was forcefully gave it another half, turning it into an aggressive monster. Not that it’s the most intimidating Kraken I’ve ever seen.

Its heads look like Jar Jar Binks!

That said, I still like the design, in a way. If the Kraken is a chimera, I like how the design isn’t an overly obvious meeting of metal and flesh, but something a bit more organic–a biological, organic alteration of a creature. Either that, or it’s just a weird, two-headed Kraken. Some players surmise that the Kraken, ultimately, was replaced by a boss we see in Chapter 2, and, if that’s true, then I definitely have some thoughts to share when we make it to that point.

I also found this image, which shows the Kraken taking a bite of, I think Lighter? I can’t really tell. Maybe Fuel.

Maybe, in the original game, Lighter and Fuel were always going to be the folks in trouble when a new catastrophe strikes. First, the forest fire. Second, the day the Kraken gets crackin’.

Anyway, this is definitely an unnecessary digression in an already overly-long post. Let’s keep moving forward. The last important thing I’ll mention here, again with thanks to Mother Forever, is that, in typical Itoi fashion, the Kraken might have initially revealed itself through a huge piece of poop.

At least that’s what it looks like to me! I know it says garbage, but I’m pretty sure the Kraken used Tazmily’s beach as its own personal rest room.

I mean, look: I think it’s totally plausible that Itoi sat down one day and thought to himself, “I want to make a game where the player controls a detective. What would be a fun way to kick off a mystery?” I can’t imagine that “giant droppings from a mysterious creature” would be too much of a stretch for Itoi’s sense of humor. It almost seems like an Itoi-themed writing prompt.

I can imagine Flint then investigating around the town, talking to sailors, talking, maybe, to Nana, for clues about what could be happening out in the ocean. Could those clues have originally led to the Kraken, to the Pigmasks? With EarthBound 64’s more robust (60 hour?) story, I could see Itoi going for a slower rate of reveal with the Pigmasks, instead of showing them in the opening cutscene of Chapter 1. One of my favorite things about the Pigmasks in the early game is how they’re so close to the town, yet still concealed. Don’t forget that these guys camp out in the mountains just beyond the village! How long have they been here? How long have they been watching?

Okay, now I really need to get back on track. This is a section about Tazmilians, not EarthBound 64 conspiracy theories!

Well, as I’m sure you can guess, Bud and Lou are still working on their comedy routines. I really like their interaction this time because they’re arguing between two punch lines. One of them is, “What are we, a freak show?” And the other is, “What are we, sea otters?” And for some reason this just kills me. I mean, we all know Bud and Lou are committed to comedy, but it cracks me up to see them actually standing around and working on material.

Also, someone in Tazmily needs to keep up morale, and I’m sure these guys can do it.

I can imagine Nana catching wind of their conversation down on her end of the beach and smiling to herself. She has a front row seat to the best comedy duo in all of Tazmily! These guys are masters of their craft.

Though I’ve gotta say–the comedy ends here. If there’s one consistent theme among many of the Tazmilians today, it’s that they don’t possess the best emotional intelligence. So many people tell Flint to lighten up, to be strong in front of the kids, to not freak out again like he did at the campfire. And look, I’m not saying they’re wrong: Flint does need to be strong for his sons, and no, he shouldn’t hit people with a flaming stick, but

Come on, Tazmily! Give the guy a break! Even the sweet little Angie, who sees that Flint is upset and invites him inside to make bread, ends up putting him into an awkward situation. Angie’s mother, Caroline, tells Flint to cheer up because it’s what Hinawa would want, and, again, I’m not saying Hinawa wouldn’t want that, but wheesh! She’s only been in the grave since lunch time! Let’s cool it on the “telling-Flint-how-to-grieve” front!

That said, I still like these characters. I like how Caroline tells Flint that she and Hinawa used to bake nut bread together all the time, and I like how the player can revisit Angie and Caroline to get more cookies or more bread. If you have some nuts in your inventory you haven’t used yet, bring them to this house, and the two will bake something for you. I don’t know that the player necessarily needs extra healing items in Chapter 1, but it’s a nice option, and it’s kind of sweet that you can actually do it. It gives Tazmily a sense of community. If Chapter 1 was a bit longer, I could see myself revisiting Caroline more often to stock up my inventory, but I don’t know–her baking might not compare to Mike’s slightly unclean cookies.

You know what, just to show my commitment to supporting local bakers, next week I’m going to run all the way back to Tazmily (you don’t even know where I ended up yet!) just to bake some bread, because I realize I didn’t do that here. I need to play around in the world of Mother 3 as much as possible, and I think baking bread counts!

Maybe I’ll call it, “Tales from Nowhere: To Bake a Batch of Cookies.”

Of course, Flint is still a man who’s fresh out of prison, so it’s probably a good idea to stop baking cookies and visit the fellows he walloped last night.

I stopped in to Abbot’s house first, and man: Abbot and Abbey seem to be doing pretty well for themselves, plants-wise! These two have plants all over the place! Plants on the ground, plants by the window–it’s like a green house in here!

And yet, separate beds? What’s going on, you two? I thought you were Tazmily’s cutest couple, after Thomas and Linda, of course. Is there trouble in plant paradise?

Anyway, Abbot tells Flint to forget the whole thing, which makes sense. Abbot and Abbey both obviously lean toward forgiveness, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they each caught some nastier bruises last night from more than just Flint. You can’t fight two Yammonsters without those two slipping and twisting their ankle, or something.

But Abbot and Abbey are good folks. Despite the whole two beds thing (okay, there is literally no problem with them having separate beds, I’m just saying I noticed it), I actually love getting to see the inside of the Tazmilians’ homes. In peaceful Tazmily, of course the young couple has their home lined with plants. It’s cute! And the top of my writing desk is lined with plants, so I feel right at home. Maybe next time, instead of throwing Flint in jail, Abbot and Abbey can offer Flint their other bed. They can thank Flint later.

Actually, now that I think about, an abbey is where monks or nuns live, and an abbot is the head honcho of the abbey…

Okay, okay! I take it back! Separate beds is fine! Do your thing, Abbot and Abbey! It’s none of my business!

I hate when I don’t position the characters well for a screenshot! Sorry, Bob! it’s cowboy hat on cowboy hat action!

Is this a good time to bring up Tazmilian duos and the way they are named? Abbot and Abbey? Lighter and Fuel? Maybe another time. Other people are not so quick to act nice around Flint.

Like Bob, who, once again, I remember basically nothing about. He’s hanging out in the town square and seems nervous to be around Flint, even surprised that he’s already out of jail. It seems some Tazmilians are not only unfamiliar with uncomfortable emotions, but also think they are best dealt with behind bars. I think I’m starting to agree with old, bedridden Scamp, who lives on the outskirts of town in a shack and says there’s something changing in Tazmily… he can just feel it…

I also was surprised to find Ollie, the other guy Flint knocked out, living in Pusher’s mansion! I must have forgotten this through the years, but I guess Ollie is one of Tazmily’s ruling elite, which makes me think he just wanted to be on the frontlines of the forest as a political move. A sort of, “Hey, look at me! I’m the rich guy’s son, but I’m not just some useless onlooker!”

But I’m just being snarky–Ollie quickly forgives Flint, and the whole thing passes. I mean, Ollie does mention that he’s a very open-hearted person, which I have technically have no evidence of, but I’ll give him that one. I don’t know how open-hearted someone can really be when they live in Pusher’s mansion, but, you know, if Flint would have broken Ollie’s glasses, for example, I don’t know how he would have ever gotten a new pair! Does anyone in town even make glasses? Is Mapson the town optometrist? What a close call for Ollie!

Seems pretty easy to be open-hearted when you’re livin’ on Pusher’s land, bub.

I can’t say that the rest of the Pusher household is as open-hearted as Ollie, unfortunately. Pusher himself insists that it wasn’t his idea to put Flint in jail over night, and maybe it wasn’t, but I can’t help but notice that no one in this house is, you know, at Hinawa’s funeral. I bet Pusher’s feeling pretty guilty right about now, if it was his idea.

Don’t think I’ve forgotten, Pusher. Cowboys never forget.

Worse than Pusher, however, is Pusher’s wife, Elmore, who speaks condescendingly to Flint about how he acted last night, positing that she knows how he feels. And look: I get it if these folks didn’t want to attend the funeral. Maybe they’ll go in their own time to visit the grave. But if you don’t go to the funeral, and you decide to be a jerk to Flint, then what’s going on here? How did this family come to be?

What I mean by that is, yes, the arrival of the Pigmask Army is going to spell bad news for Tazmily. There’s even an amazing cameo appearance that I’ll show you in a moment of a very high-ranking figure in the Pigmask Army, who has already found a way to infiltrate the town, its collective consciousness, and its values.

But: what’s going on with Pusher and his wife? Why does Tazmily even have a family like this? As we’ll see in a second, everything is free at the bazaar. There is no money in Tazmily. There is no wealth. So why, Pusher? What are you hiding? And who is Sebastian, the strange man on the second floor of your house, who claims to have so much to do?

I’m just kidding. Sebastian’s cool. It’s even kind of funny that someone in Tazmily can consider themselves busy. We already know that no one’s ever in a hurry in a Tazmily. What’s the rush, Sebastian?

But I guess not everyone in Tazmily can be a perfect angel who ultimately becomes somewhat corrupted under the influence of the Pigmasks. Some people have to be bad eggs from the start. And speaking of bad eggs: what’s that smell? Is it an unclean cookie? Or is it just Mike, who has decided to work the bazaar today?

In basically all other RPGs ever, you’d need gold, gil, or rupees (or, in EarthBound’s case, cold hard cash) to buy these items, but they’re free in Mother 3. The most important thing to grab here is the Running Bomb, pictured above as the purple-ish ball with legs. Honestly, it’s a good idea to hold on to every bomb or explosive you come across for the duration of the chapter. You’re going to need them at the end.

Bravo to Mike, though, for expressing genuine condolences to Flint. He says he’s sorry for not being able to help more, which I don’t even blame him for. Mike somehow managed to make it far into the forest, for an old-timer. And really, someone speaking to Flint like a human being is nice. Not everyone seems to be able to do that, except the old geezers in town. Even Wess, if you choose to visit him, will give Flint a short speech about the reality of death, and the pain of seeing young people pass away first. But he reminds Flint that his life is not solely his own, so he shouldn’t go off doing anything totally reckless.

Someone tell that to Claus, ASAP.

See, these are the moments of characterization I love. To me, it’s cool how a character like Mike, who is often used for gags in the story, has a moment of genuine sympathy with Flint. And Wess, who we’ll learn in Chapter 2 is not exactly the world’s greatest dad, understands that Flint needs some guidance and reassurance. Now isn’t the time to go do anything crazy, and if an old thief tells you that, then you listen.

In the same way I appreciate the variety of Tazmilians, I appreciate that most of them have a real range of emotion, just like Mother 3 itself. There are times to be funny, and times to be sad. So far, with Wess alone, we’ve seen him dejected when Jonel suggested that he stay behind; we’ve seen him act as a hero by coordinating the fetch mission (which itself had some comedic bits strewn about); and we now see him as an elder of the village, consoling the younger father.

That’s characterization, baby! That’s sharing the spotlight! And it, in my opinion, pays off as the game continues.

Bronson, too, who has struck out about three times when it comes to offering sympathy, tells Flint that he had to leave the scene at Hinawa’s grave because seeing Lucas cry was too much for him to handle. I’m not sure if telling Flint this information is the best decision in the world, but at least he didn’t say, “Flint, the good news is, Hinawa’s grave is beautiful. The bad news is, your crybaby son is weeping next to the grave, and your other son took off into the mountains. Also did I mention the grave is your wife’s?”

I’ve talked a lot of shit on him today, but Bronson’s a good guy. Someone had to break the news to Flint, and someone had to watch over him in jail. Something I’ve never realized (even though it’s a gruesome thought) is that Flint never saw Hinawa after the Drago had killed her. Bronson is the one who found her, saw her, and, probably, removed the Drago Fang, which is depressing in its own right. I’m sure the town’s blacksmith could use a hug just as much as Flint could. Flint and his family are going through the most right now, but that doesn’t mean the others aren’t suffering or having their own difficulties. Last night was messed up in a thousand ways. What Bronson saw might mess him up for a long time.

I don’t know whether to follow that up with, “Hey! Cool it with the seriousness. We’re talking about a game, after all.” Or, “Hey! Take it seriously. We’re talking about a game, here!”

Well, let’s see, who else is there to talk about before heading up to the funeral…

I mentioned Scamp, another new villager, who lives on the outskirts of Tazmily with a parrot. Scamp has a bad feeling, something he can sense in the undercurrents of the town, but the poor guy also doesn’t exactly seem long for this world. He remains bedridden for the times we see him, with his stuffed animal Mr. Beary nearby and, of course, his trusty parrot Myrna by his side. I love how Scamp is concerned that someone has been teaching Myrna dirty words, when the worst she says is “dangnabbit.”

Scamp reminds me of the grandpa from The Grapes of Wrath, who’s always grumbling about something, while also remaining an endearing character. He’s not quite a fit for the times anymore, but there’s an intuition in his bones that just can’t be shaken.

Nearby Scamp’s place, there’s Butch’s farm, where a bunch of cows and pigs hang out. We’ll come back here after the funeral, but for now I want to share some dialogue from the animals.

Each pig and each cow has a unique line of dialogue, which is obviously the mark of excellent game design. I won’t go through them all right now, because we can come back to the farm on a few different occasions, but I like one pig, who claims to have secrets about Mother 3.

Though there’s also another pig who says he has no idea of any pig-only secrets in Mother 3, which is a nice try, because I know that’s exactly what a pig with Mother 3 secrets would say. I have my eye on you, bud.

And, for our purposes, I also love that there is a cow who perfectly imitates the save frogs.

Who would’ve thought that, of all the dialogue in Mother 3 to love, the cows and pigs would steal the show. It’s nice to know that whenever I need to get away from the tragedy of Chapter 1, I can always come to the farm to find some good conversation. Also, if we consider the homeless mouse, the stray dog, and the farm animals on both Butch’s and Alec’s farms, I’d say the animals are my favorite Nowhere Islands natives to kick it with.

Unfortunately, tragedy is still all over.

If you decide to check in on Flint’s house, you’ll find poor Boney, moping in his dog house. Trying to talk to him only results in a whimper. I wonder if he understands that Hinawa won’t be coming home.

Boney, the most important Tazmilian of them all.

I also encountered one of the first instances of Flint’s magically recurring doorknob. If you recall, Thomas pulled so hard on the door knob that it flew off, bouncing away into the night. When you revisit Flint’s house, a dialogue box appears that says, “The door is missing its doorknob, but you opened it anyway.”

And, of course, I opened the door to check myself in the mirror. I’m sorry! I can’t help it! And I was still lookin’ handsome!

Are you worn out yet? I told you this post was going to be long. How about we visit some Tazmilians we’ve already met?

I’ve gotta say, I really appreciated checking in at the Yado Inn to talk with Jackie and Betsy. Jackie, instead of avoiding the subject, said outright that he didn’t have any words to offer me, and I appreciate that. I’ll take honesty over people encouraging Flint to stifle his emotions.

Betsy, though, urges Flint to keep it together in front of the kids, but I think the townsfolk underestimate Lucas and Claus. Claus, anyway, clearly isn’t afraid of anything (which may not be the best quality to have, in the end), and Lucas… well, we’ll see how Lucas turns out.

What I’m getting at is, everyone in Tazmily wants to backseat-parent for Flint, and I’m not saying the breakdown by the campfire was something anyone would want their kids to see, but Claus and Lucas had already seen much worse. They’re strong kids–strong enough to break their own father out of jail. Flint, Boney, Lucas, and Claus are all going to need to be strong for each other.

With all that said and done, I guess it’s time to head over to the funeral. Finally, with no Thomas to tell us no, or Mapson to mark our map (which he will, by the way, to lead you to the funeral), we head north to an area that was previously forbidden: the graveyard, and Osohe Castle.

On the way to the graveyard, you can run into Lisa, Reggie, and Paul. Reggie, as usual, tries to offer some insight on the matters at hand. He says that people have the power to remember, and the power to forget, which I’ve always read as a message to Flint that things will be okay. There will be times when he vividly and sorrowfully remembers Hinawa, but there will also be times when he continues to live on without her, as he has to do. It is sad to equate forgetting with recovering from grief, but, in a way, it’s true. We hurt for a while, and we forget. Then we remember, then we forget again. People have the power to forget.

Paul, however, decides to be the last great moralizer. He tells Flint that it’s wrong for him to take his aggression out on others, which I don’t even have a response to anymore.

Some people, man! Ready to preach before the poor cowboy has even eaten breakfast!

Well, onward and northward to the graveyard. I love how ~spooky~ the graveyard is. Except for Hinawa’s grave on the grassy hill, everything is gray. The trees are dying, old Nippolyte hunches over a shovel and ensures that Hinawa’s grave is beautiful, and that Flint, too, can be buried there.

Oh, yeah. Nippolyte–he’s a new villager, too. He’s the town grave digger who always looks like he’s out of breath. We don’t get to know much about the old timer, but I’ve always really liked his design. He reminds me of the weird old grave digger from Ocarina of Time, but not as creepy. I also like to imagine that Nippolyte wrote all of the headstone inscriptions in the graveyard, which are full of different jokes and puns.

Each headstone contains some kind of play on words, usually with the word “grave,” which is honestly the most perfect, indicative instance yet of Mother 3’s tragedy and levity. Literal humor in a graveyard. Jokes on a headstone.

I don’t know what these said in the original Japanese, but after reading a little bit of Legends of Localization 2: EarthBound, some of Tomato’s notes on the Mother 3 translation, and that Greg Lescoe article, I appreciate how much effort goes in to translating humor across language and culture. Itoi’s graveyard would be this funny, and I think Tomato and his team preserve it as perfectly cheesy as possible.

I think there’s something beautiful about that. Why not make a graveyard that can laugh at itself?

To add to this point, I like how Brenda decides to flat-out say what many Tazmilians might really be feeling: “Nothing personal, but I’m not good at dealing with gloomy things like this.”

We could call it more Tazmily awkwardness around the subject of death, but I like how Brenda is able to admit that it makes her uncomfortable and she doesn’t really want to deal with it. Grief is a strange emotion, which exists on a spectrum, and I think awkward responses from some of the Tazmilians is a perfect way to explore that. Just like in real life, some people laugh at a funeral.

Though farther up the hill, the crowd grows more somber.

Matt, the town drunk, is exceptionally drunk, remarking that Hinawa barely got to live life, and there’s no way he couldn’t drink at a time like this. His son, Biff, apologizes on his behalf. Butch can barely speak while expressing his condolences, and Jonel’s wife, Dona, can’t even begin to process that Hinawa is gone.

I’ll admit that I’m still mad at Jonel for separating Boney from Flint last night, because I really think if Boney had been at the campfire, everything could have worked out for the best, but I have to throw Jonel a bone here. He remarks on Flint and Hinawa’s relationship, saying, “You two loved each other so much that even the little birds in the forest were jealous.”

Yes, maybe the line is a little bit overkill, because it’s like, we get it, Hinawa and Flint were very, very, very in love… but it still works for me, because Mother 3 feels a bit more like a fairytale than its predecessors, especially in its first three chapters. Sure, maybe its forced on us that Hinawa and Flint were starcrossed lovers, but this was a world where Dragos, immense dinosaur-like creatures, are considered peaceful. This is a town where nobody locks their doors. If the game has to backtrack a little bit to tell us about how in love they were, instead of showing us, then so be it. I believe it.

Maybe that’s one way to think about the Mother games: science fiction fairy tales.

And if the grief wasn’t enough, Tessie and Alle add an element of tension: Claus’s whereabouts.

There’s not necessarily anything to worry about yet, but Tessie said that Claus was the first person at Hinawa’s grave this morning. There’s nothing wrong with that… except, other than his visit to the jail cell, no one’s seen Claus for a while.

Then there’s Alle, who says that Claus told her she would see in her “in a while.” I don’t know if I like the sound of that either. Though, like I mentioned above, I like how Claus seems to be a bit more socially connected than Lucas. If we do think that Claus takes after Flint, I like imagining that he is a little detective in his own right, with his ear always to the ground for playground gossip. Children may be small, but they have their own channels of communication, just like anybody else. Flint and Claus, father and son, detectives and cowboys to the end.

Plus, there needs to. bea kid detective in town. We all know Nana’s got secrets.

Time is relative, little girl.

And finally, there are even more Tazmilians crowded around Hinawa’s grave at the top of the hill. Nippolyte was right: it’s a beautiful plot. Good news and bad news, Flint.

Like I said back in Part 1, for a while I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to split this post into multiple parts. One of my major reasons for this was that I wasn’t sure if I could properly translate everything I’d see in gameplay to writing. Mother 3 really is sad sometimes, and most players can pass a save frog and wrap things up whenever they want. I was tempted to a few different times, mostly for stamina. If “Sorrowful Family” doesn’t take the wind out of you after Hinawa’s death scene, then you’re a stronger cowboy than me.

But I stuck with it, and here we are. I like the idea of turning the writing process of the blog into its own kind of game. In the same way you sometimes need to look at a painting upside-down to get a new perspective, or need to rearrange the scenes of a story to look at the narrative in a new form, or maybe even moves the lines of a poem, or song, around… I think it’s important to play in the writing process if you’re going to write about playing games. And if that involves me pushing myself to more difficult limits sometimes, I think that’s okay.

There’s even something special, in a way, in having to dwell in Hinawa’s wake like this as a writer. It’s such a pivotal moment in the game, and I’ve had to revisit it nearly every day for the past two weeks of writing. It’s heavy content. It’s hard to write about death all the time. I’ve really had to sit here and just accept that I have to write about Hinawa’s death a little bit more today.

Maybe the frogs really are starting to get to me and I’m justifying the length of this post, but I don’t think so! At least not anymore. Sometimes I’ve felt like Flint in the jail cell while writing this, but other times I’ve felt like Boney dodging lightning!

As for who we can talk to near the grave…

Lisa and Thomas are here. Poor Thomas laments not finding Hinawa sooner, if only they’d been a little bit faster. And Lisa says she remembers the day she first introduced Hinawa and Flint. I was just talking about how Tazmily and Mother 3 leans more toward a fairy tale, but details like this ground Tazmily in reality. Hinawa and Flint may be remembered as star-crossed lovers, but they had to find each other just like anybody else. They had to be set up by Thomas’s wife, of all people.

Two of my favorite lines of dialogue occur up here as well. First, there’s Lighter, who says, “I wish I could pound fate with this two by four,” which is itself poetry as far as I’m concerned, and there’s also Bateau, who… You know what, I’m actually excited to see Bateau up here. For someone who seems relegated to being a background character, he really tries his hardest to involve himself in the action of the story. I mean, Nichol says that Linda, her mother, was best friends with Hinawa, and it makes sense for Lighter and Fuel to be up here because Flint and Lighter are old buddies… but Bateau? One of these Tazmilians is not like the others…

I guess if he feels so compelled, that’s his decision. Good on you, Bateau! Bateau may have the weakest connection to anyone up here, but I’m glad he decided to join us. I imagine Itoi gently encouraging Bateau to go the front lines of Mother 3, in the same way a parent might encourage their child to take a few extra steps toward something–“Go ahead, it’s all right.” Maybe no character has to be a minor character forever. Maybe all it takes is walking to the front, and the right amount of encouragement.

Oh, and his line is, “I was just trying to remember what sunflowers symbolize,” which always makes me crack a smile. Maybe, I don’t know… the sun!!! Happiness!!!

Even though we have been previously acquainted with the Tazmily gerberas, which Hinawa planted all over town, this is our first instance of sunflowers, which will recur throughout the game as a symbol for Hinawa’s presence, among other things. Hinawa’s grave plot really is beautiful, not just for its hillside view, but for this patch of flowers growing off to the side. They almost seem magical, as if they shouldn’t have grown this big. And who knows, maybe Bateau is onto something, and they do symbolize something I’m not thinking of. I just enjoy them as an image, even if they are near a grave grave.

Like Tessie and Alle, Isaac asks where Claus is, and little Richie, Thomas’s daughter, says that Hinawa is up in the sky now. And that’s about it for the Tazmilians. I promise we are closer than ever to the next save frog, but just not yet. There’s a little bit more to go.

I don’t know about you, but to me, it really felt like there were three million Tazmilians this time around. Remember when we were discussing Nana and EarthBound 64, about a hundred years ago?

Either way, thanks for sticking with me, and thanks for sticking with these townsfolk. As we’ve seen, some of them are insensitive. Some of them are overly sensitive. Some of them think life’s problems can be swatted away with lumber. Some of them think something just ain’t right in this town…

When I compare the range of expressions and opinions that we’ve gotten in just this one chapter, I remain thankful to be playing Mother 3. It’s nice to talk to NPCs who do more than push me along to the next plot point. It’s nice that some NPCs, like Nana, simply aren’t talkative around Flint, but are more talkative around other characters. In another videogame, Nana likely would have talked to any character, feeding the same line of dialogue no matter the circumstances. It’s nice to run into some NPCs who support me, and others who say I shouldn’t take out my aggression on others. I love how Tazmilians feel both real, and as if part of a story. I love how some Tazmilians understand pain and loss, like Wess, while others think there seem to be rules of how to express yourself when your wife dies.

While each Tazmilian themselves may not be dynamic, they each contribute to a dynamic whole. We won’t see every single villager go through a significant arc, but as a community they will, and we’re seeing the first tides of change. Hinawa’s death changes our main characters forever: Lucas, Claus, and Flint. But it’s not just her family who grieves. Her death also changes everyone forever– Tazmilians, and real life people playing the actual game.

To me, that is the true success of Hinawa’s character. Sure, maybe we don’t get a lot of her as an actual character, and we are told more than we are shown. And yes, maybe Hinawa’s death makes a lopsided contribution to Mother 3’s reputation, putting too much emphasis on the dark tone. But we also shouldn’t forget that, paratextual influence aside, Hinawa is still deeply important to Mother 3’s story, far beyond Chapter 1. It’s not just her death scene, but how her death changes those who loved her. It’s not just what we’re told about her, but who says it, and why. It’s not just her early exit from the plot, but her invisible presence in it from here on out.

Maybe we’ll see Hinawa again some day, and this will all have been a nightmare. And even if we don’t, Hinawa lives still in the gerberas, in the sunflowers, in the grieving hearts of millions.

The Mandana

By the time Flint makes it to Hinawa’s grave, Lucas is still there, his little heart broken in two, with Alec, his grandpa, by his side. Alec tells Flint hello, and that he’s still in shock and disbelief over everything. He struggles to process the death of his daughter alongside the amazing time he just spent with his grandkids. At least Alec is in the right graveyard if he needs a laugh. I could see him getting a kick out of the headstones.

To make everything hurt even worse, Alec notes, too, that Claus is nowhere to be seen, and he questions Lucas about his whereabouts. At first, Lucas won’t break, but the little guy doesn’t hold out for long. He even changes from his normal sprite style to his “Sad Lucas” sprite, which breaks my little heart in two.

Oh, Lucas.

It doesn’t take much prodding for Lucas to reveal, “[Claus] didn’t take Dad’s homemade knife and go into the mountains to kill the Drago!” Which, if you didn’t know, means Claus did take Flint’s homemade knife and go into the mountains to kill the Drago. After revealing Claus’s secret, Lucas runs back home, where he can later be found hanging out with Boney, the best friend a kid could ask for in a time like this.

And what did I tell you about Claus being his father’s son? I had even forgotten the detail where Claus takes Flint’s knife. The arrival of the Pigmasks may signal that time is running out for the old school heroes, but time is also running out for young boys with knives fighting Dragos. We’ve got to find Claus, and fast.

And if there’s one thing I know in life, it’s that all roads lead to the Sunshine Forest.

The first few times I saw this scene, I always thought Alec was a little hard on Lucas. He berates him for not stopping Claus when he had the chance, and nearly forces him to reveal where Claus has gone. Of course, this makes sense: Alec understands much better than Lucas, maybe even much better than Flint, that if we’re not fast enough, Claus is going to die out there. I’ve just always felt so bad for Lucas. I’m sure he is lost and confused in hundreds of different ways.

But I also like Alec, especially because of moments like this. Usually, as we’ll see later this chapter, Alec cracks jokes and tries to keep the tension light. He’s friends with the Magicantians, who are the most peaceful people in probably literally the entire world. However, it’s easy to forget that behind the goofy grandpa is also a father who has lost his daughter. When Flint and Alec team up in the mountains, they work together not just as men, but as two fathers trying to keep what’s left of their family together.

Anyway, Alec tells Flint to come meet him up at his cabin, then they’ll start looking for Claus. He even suggests that old Mapson mark it down, just in case it’s hard to find. I politely decline his suggestion.

From here, there are two important things to do, one of which I’ve actually never done before. First, you need to retrieve the Drago Fang from Bronson, and second, you can retrieve the Manly Bandana from Lighter (I never knew this was a thing until this playthrough! More evidence of me not playing around enough in the world of Mother 3!).

Getting the Drago Fang from Bronson can play out in two ways. You can retrieve the fang from Bronson’s house, or he’ll stop you outside the Prayer Sanctuary and give it to you. Basically, the game does not want you to miss this item, which I’m conflicted about. It’s impossible to miss. In EarthBound, you need an item, the Franklin Badge, to survive a lethal attack at one point. You can’t survive the attack, and will continue to get game over screens, until you find the Franklin Badge.

Just in case someone is reading this who doesn’t know what the Drago Fang is for, I won’t say anything yet, other than that you can’t do a very specific and important thing without it. Instead of having the player potentially make it to this point, realize they don’t have the item, then walk all the way back to get it, the game positions the event as impossible to miss. I think this is one of those moments where I can see both sides. On one hand, Mother 3 is so much more cinematic than EarthBound, so going into the end of Chapter 1 with all the items you need kind of makes sense, if the aim is for all players to experience the story, or at least the story’s pacing, in a similar way. The tension could totally disappear from the moment if you had to walk all the way back to Tazmily.

However, I still think it could have been cool for this item to be missable, at least temporarily. In my case, I accidentally triggered the scene where Bronson meets you outside the Sunshine Forest, but my inventory was full, so I then went to Bronson’s house to get the Drago Fang. Either way, you need the item to finish Chapter 1.

The other item, which I didn’t know about, is optional and comes from Lighter. I must have never been paying attetion during any of the 50 times I played Chapter 1 of Mother 3, which is a little bit embarrassing, especially because this item accompanies a heartfelt short scene between Flint and Lighter. Shigesato Itoi himself considers Mother 3 to take place in a “macho” world, which we’ll talk more about next frog when we, I think, encounter the Magicantians for the first time.

If you revisit the beach as Flint, you can find Fuel, who will tell you that his dad has been pretty messed up since all these things happened. And it’s true: Lighter’s been through just as much as anyone over the last 24 hours. He had a near-death experience in the forest, his son had a near-death experience in the forest, and his oldest friend, Flint, lost his wife. Sure, maybe his pain isn’t as deep as Flint’s, but everyone in town is grieving in their own way, and Lighter is no exception. Thank god this isn’t the Nintendo 64 version, where Lighter’s wife, Tobacco, was originally planned to disappear after a run-in with the Kraken.

The specificity of this statement cracks me up. I’ll be sure to catch these guys’ act sometime.

Bud and Lou also hang out, still, by the beach, encouraging Flint to catch their act and asking him if he gets along with their boss all right. Even in normal dialogue these two find places to quip, like when Bud describes Lighter as “scuttling around, looking out at the sea in a quiet, unbecoming way,” and Lou says, “What, is he a hermit crab or something?!?!?”

I’d like to commend the appearance of three question marks and two exclamation points.

Lighter, standing on the edge of Tazmily, understands Flint’s reaction to Hinawa’s death, but he, too, urges his old friend to keep his emotions in check as much as he can, solely for the sake of Lucas and Claus. This advice, though many villagers have said it, sounds better coming from Lighter. Maybe I’m just allowing myself to be influenced by macho man rhetoric, but I think the Mother series, whose fathers have been absent from the previous two games, and Itoi, whose real life father has been absent from his own life, tries to say something about fatherhood, here. From his own distant father, and from himself being a distant father, I’m sure Itoi understands the difficulties many men have expressing their emotions, and the general difficulties of emotional intelligence that all people struggle with.

Lighter understands that Flint expresses himself through his action. Through doing, not saying. Even though Flint speaks in future chapters, I still believe his role as the silent hero in Chapter 1 is so significant. Flint’s breakdown, as tragic as it was, is also an attempt to express an emotion. Lighter reminds me a lot of Judd, from Pet Sematary, who becomes a father figure for the protagonist, Louis. Judd’s memorable quotation, which reads, “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis. A man grows what he can, and he tends it,” is not so different from Lighter ending his speech with, “You know what’s best. It’s tough being a man.”

Lighter also understands Claus’s motivations, conceding with an air of obviousness that of course the boy went off to avenge Hinawa. Claus is not like Lucas. Claus is like Flint, like Lighter. Someone who expresses himself through what he does, not what he says. Lighter offers this thought, to me, reluctantly. With last night’s tragedy still fresh, still barely processed, the last thing anyone wants to think about is Claus getting into serious danger.

And of course, to top off the manly heart-to-heart, Lighter gives Flint a “Manly Bandana,” which I’m surprised Itoi didn’t call The Mandana. You can equip The Mandana instead of your “Cowboy Hat” item, which doesn’t feel right to me. Maybe it’s just because I never knew this item even existed, but it doesn’t feel right to even imagine Flint taking off his cowboy hat! Maybe he’s just tying it around his forehead. I love the designs of the Mother 3 cast, but sometimes I wish that a cosmetic change here or there could occur. It could be kind of cool to see Flint have a bandana around his arm or something, like how Boney had on the orange bandana earlier.

Plus, Lighter promises that it’s clean. He just washed it.

Like I said, I have no idea how I’ve never gotten this item or seen this part of the game. What a good reminder to slow down, even on my longest days! Here I am, frog after frog, commending how every minor character gets a chance in the spotlight, and I didn’t even know this scene between Lighter and Flint existed. I know I’m kind of fawning over this by now, but for me it’s so exciting! Mother 3 always has more to offer, and, even if it’s something small, there’s truly always new things to run into on a play through. Also, I like what this adds for Flint’s arc, too. I won’t delve into it yet, but it’s not like things get any less tragic for him.

I also remember earlier in the chapter when Ed’s exposition about Flint and Lighter being childhood friends seemed weirdly specific. Why would he say that out of nowhere? But it all works out in the end, because I like having that background knowledge in this scene. This isn’t just two Tazmilians, or two fathers, talking some things out. It’s two old friends who have been through a lot over the past 24 hours, helping each other out.

This is also another instance where I’d be curious to know what Flint would say in this conversation.. But maybe words aren’t important when we can stop for a second and look out at the ocean.

Also, have I complimented Tazmily’s grass yet today? It’s so nice to see some normal, green, day-time grass! Last night was the longest night of my life! I’ll be seeing purple grass in my dreams for weeks.

After meeting up with Lighter, it’s almost about time to head back into the forest, but we still have a couple stops to make.

First, we have to check in on Lucas, who can be found outside the house with Boney. Yes, this is another instance of the “sad Lucas” sprite, and I can barely look at it. Lucas himself can barely speak. All he says is, “Dad,” then he sobs. Mother 3 really is intent on kicking your heart while its down.

And come on–say something, Flint!

But, obviously, I love that Boney is there with him. Actually, the only reason I came home was to see if Boney wanted to join me in the forest, but I think I’ll leave him here with Lucas. Someday, those two are going to make a great team.

I also mentioned a clever little cameo earlier, which I’ll talk about now.

After Hinawa’s funeral, if you revisit Butch’s farm, you can find him talking to a stranger, who for now is only identified as ???. The stranger tells Butch, “Wow! Just wow! Such magnificent, marvelous pigs!” To which Butch responds, “When my pigs are praised, it makes ME feel good, almost as if the praise is about me.”

I won’t say too much more about this encounter for now, but I love that it’s in the game. For now, I just want to note a few things.

First, remember that Butch attended Hinawa’s funeral, and, of the people there, he was one of most saddened (at least as portrayed through his dialogue). Could it possibly be dangerous that, while Butch is an emotional place, and while Tazmily is in an emotional place, that someone would come to town and start easing everyone into a sense of security? Isn’t it a little suspect that, the first time Tazmilians experience tragedy, there’s someone just around the corner to make it all feel a little better? And by the way, what exactly about the pigs is marvelous? Does ??? have an affinity for pigs?

Second, with how significant the stranger becomes to the plot, ???’s appearance here is so creepy and foreboding on subsequent play-throughs. How long has Tazmily been on ???’s radar? Has ??? been talking to other villagers inconspicuously, building them up as individuals? Has ??? complimented Flint’s sheep?

I wish I could say the mystery ends there, but there’s another strange force making its way around Tazmily, in addition to the strange, pig-complimenting ???. You wouldn’t guess what it is at first, but look no further than Bronson’s clothesline and you’ll see:

Oh, nevermind. Sorry. It’s just a simple clothesline.

The last thing I’ll point out is the song, “Going Alone.” For my money, this song is one of the best in the game, and I know what you’re thinking. I really do say that a lot.

But–

Something about this song. I don’t know what it is! It mixes anxiety, sadness, and hope. It feels forlorn but also weirdly chipper. Maybe somebody else can describe it better than me, but the song just reminds me of those three emotions really well: anxiety, grief, and hope. I also like the vibe this song brings to the gameplay itself. Right now, you’d think the game might go for another song like “Hard Rain,” something with a good bass to motivate the player forward. Instead, Mother 3 opts for the subtle, but still effective, “Going Alone.” If the song was just a bit slower, I’d just want to mope around and grieve, but it’s fast enough to remind me to keep going.

I think the song encapsulates Flint as a character right now, too, if not Tazmily as a whole. Flint is quite literally going alone, at least for now, but so is everyone, in a way. Most villagers are probably experiencing emotions they’ve never felt before. Lucas is heartbroken. Hinawa is gone. Claus is in danger, and–

Right–Claus is in real, life-threatening danger!

I guess there’s nothing to do but get back to that forest.

Into the Forest! Again!

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: all roads lead to the Sunshine Forest, and there’s never a rush in Tazmily. Why do you think this post has two parts? When there isn’t a forest fire to get me running, I take my time when starting a quest.

That said, the Sad Lucas sprite took all the wind out of my sails, so even though I’m about to return to the forest, I’m not exactly doing it with a lot of gumption. Who could? Especially after spending a night in the cold, hard Tazmily jail.

Though I’ve gotta say, someone must be looking out for me, because the Sunshine Forest doesn’t just go from purple grass at night to green grass during the day. Even better, the grass has this cool shade effect going on, where it’s a dark-ish turquoise color. Or maybe it’s not supposed to be shade, but just darker grass or something. I don’t care! I think it looks great!

Maybe I’ll write a poetry book called Leaves of Tazmily Grass.

Poem #1: “Song of Myself (As Told by Flint)”

I don’t know, what color would you call that? Whatever it’s called, I like it! They need to make Mother 3 coloring books, or something. Anything to celebrate the color palettes of these great games.

Also, the Sunshine Forest’s damaged environment matches the track “Beyond the Sunshine Forest” super well, I think. As usual, I love this song because the bass in it is sick, but even beyond (ha) that, I love the weird, echoey, synth-y breakdown, and the song’s grave tone. I love how the song sound kind of dangerous and intense; not only has a lot happened in this forest over night–destruction, death, loss–but also a boy’s life hangs in balance once again. “Beyond the Sunshine Forest” carries a lot on its shoulders. And really: what’s a trek into the forest without a sick bass line to propel us forward? I love how each time we have entered the forest, the tone has been so similarly tense, but vastly different in circumstances.

Though there’s more going on in the Sunshine Forest than a fresh coat of paint on the grass and a slick new track; creatures run throughout, the forest is alive! But also weirdly dead. The damage of the fire encompasses everything, and you can’t step anywhere without seeing debris. There are also more of those Flying Mouse chimeras, alongside Yammonsters, Greedy Mice, Praying Mantises, and those stupid Mighty Bitey Snakes. I actually had a really close call while getting through this combat area, where I ran out of antidotes and almost died from poisoning. I made it to the hot springs just in time!

Bleeding out in the forest, also, works as a great accompaniment to “Beyond the Sunshine Forest,” in a messed up way.

I was also a huge fan of the psychedelic backgrounds today, especially. These things just get better and better. I especially like the background for the Greedy Mouse, the Praying Mantis, and a rare enemy I encountered, the Soot Dumpling. Isn’t that an amazing name?

I had never seen this enemy in any of my Mother 3 play-throughs, which is probably because Mother 3 never did encourage as much exploration in me as EarthBound, to be honest. Also, when I first played Mother 3 in 2008 and uploaded the footage to YouTube, I remember trying to upload just as fast as anyone else who was sharing footage of the game. I was young on the internet, and I wanted to participate, or at least feel like I was. I was always so proud when a boss fight I’d uploaded, or a specific scene from the game, shot up to near 1,000 views, the old school YouTube system allowing for small channels to find exposure a bit more easily.

Ah, those were the days! Though all of this is really just to say, I rushed through the game, in a way.

But now here I am, encountering the Soot Dumpling! I think this is my favorite enemy so far, even if the little guys are pretty mischievous. I actually wasn’t able to defeat the Soot Dumpling before the wind swept it away, but I read online that defeating them can award a huge lump of experience points. I think Mother 3 has a number of rare enemy encounters, so I’ll have to try to find them all. I know I’ve seen footage of some online through the years, but I’d love to hunt them down myself, too.

It’s funny that I’ve never encountered the Soot Dumpling, though, because I almost always revisit the remains of Lighter’s cabin when I run through the forest. I never mind the extra enemy experience, and it’s nice to see how different areas look at various points of the story.

I can also see why Itoi considered giving this game the subtitle, Forest of the Chimeras, especially if we believe the hypothesis that the beginning of the game would have been more drawn out in the Nintendo 64 version. The Sunshine Forest has a huge amount of presence, in my opinion, even when you revisit it later in the game. It’s also weird to imagine that, just a stone’s throw away from Tazmily’s crossroads, there’s a forest that seemingly every day now fills itself with more and more dangerous creatures.

As I headed north to Alec’s cabin, I did encounter some of these creatures, except one of them wasn’t even an enemy at all, but a little bush. A Walking Bushie, to be exact.

If he looks a bit cumbersome, that’s because he is. These little guys won’t attack you if you don’t attack them. They can generate a burst of refreshing air, which heals your party members’ HP, and eventually they leave the fight by politely bowing and walking away.

What a gentleman!

“Enemy” encounters like this remind me of the inspiration behind games like Undertale. As I’m sure everyone who plays these games knows, Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale, is a huge Mother fan, and the series inspired him to create his own game. Toby even got to contribute to the Pollyanna comic book, which is an absolutely incredible honor for both him and for us western fans.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is, in Undertale, you can choose to play the game as a Pacifist, which means you never kill an enemy. Undertale’s battle system, and the ways you can interact with enemies, is a little deeper, or at least different, than Mother 3’s, so sometimes “not killing an enemy” isn’t as simple as it sounds, but just like with the Walking Bushie, sometimes a little patience goes a long way. Some players, unfortunately, might treat it like any old enemy and kill it before it has a chance to become their friend.

Less fun to fight than the Walking Bushies are the Spud Bugs, which, if you’re not careful with these, can get out of hand fast.

Spud Bugs have the ability to call additional Spud Bugs into battle, so if you don’t defeat them all quickly enough, usually the sole surviving Spud Bug will call for help, and the whole cycle repeats itself. Maybe I’m just not the most intelligent player, but the Spud Bugs have given me a run for my money a few times! Except not this time. I’m the Spud Bug master, now. Which basically means I remembered Flint’s “Swing” ability, which has a chance to hit every enemy on one turn.

Still, like a few other enemies in this area, the Spuds Bugs use the battle track “More Mischievous Blues,” so don’t let these tricksters get the best of you. The Spuds Bugs are a good example, I think, of the Mother series’ difficulty swings. No, these games are not always the most challenging RPGs, but every now and again the games will throw an encounter at you with the potential to become challenging if you’re playing carelessly, and I like that.

Though what’s with all the repetition of “More Mischievous Blues?” The Greedy Mouse might be greedy, but at least it has a different battle track–the always lovely “Mambo de Battle.” I don’t have much to say about this track, but I like when it comes up! It always puts the ‘go’ in my tango.

Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to see what the cliff from Frog #10 looked like in the day-time, so I climbed up Duster’s Wall Staples, which were still in tact.

The damage looks so much more pronounced and gruesome during the day. Even though we can see the claw marks more distinctly, we’ll probably never know everything that happened up here. Sure, it doesn’t look as ghastly up here during the day, but it’s not like it looks pleasant, or anything. If anything it looks worse. You couldn’t ignore the damage if you tried.

I was also definitely not prepared to encounter the Crag Lizard, a new enemy in this area that’s pretty powerful, though you wouldn’t notice that at first. In fact, you might not notice them at all. Look around: do you see anything?

Nothing to see, except for that conspicuous rock. The view is pretty nice from up here, too.

But you’d be wrong! That rock is a formidable foe in disguise! The conspicuous rock housed an inconspicuous lizard!

I always feel like it’s a good idea to buff Flint up a bit with his Brute Strength abilities when you encounter one of these guys, at least the first the couple times. Or, at least buff up if you aren’t fighting the Crag Lizard by itself. They’re not too hard to defeat, but they pack a pretty strong punch, so better safe than sorry. The Crag Lizard’s battle song, “Astonishing March,” matches the enemy and its combat encounters really well. The boisterous tune is the perfect match for the Crag Lizard’s strong attacks and goofy, yet slightly intimidating, battle sprite. The Crag Lizard looks funny with its tongue hanging out of its mouth, but if you laugh at it for too long, it’ll wipe the smile right off your face with its dangerous tail.

Like I mentioned above, I feel like Mother 3 has a bit of a reputation for being easy, excepting a few troublesome boss fights, or at least easier than its predecessors. I agree to an extent, but I really think you can still find yourself in a number of sticky situations. Combat encounters don’t always require a bunch of planning or forethought, but you still can’t get lazy.

Or who knows! Maybe I’m just not the best fighter. Maybe this blog should be about pacifism and Undertale!

Other than that, though, I don’t have much else to report. I really love the scenery as we move farther and farther north. I also like seeing more wildlife. If you recall, in the opening cutscene, we saw a boar and a caribou. The poor caribou ended up meeting an unfortunate fate, but the boars seem mostly untouched by the Pigmasks, unless it’s the army itself that agitated them.

As you can see, the boar are not machinated, but agitated. They’re still pretty good in a fight, but not too much to worry about. If you had to guess their battle song, you probably could by this point. Yes, it’s another round of “More Mischievous Blues.” This isn’t my favorite battle song in the game or anything, but I at least appreciate the sentiment that blues can be mischievous.

And so what else is there to say? I can’t believe I’m finally at the end of this post. This is the longest single piece of anything I’ve written in a very long time. I try not to get too meta on the Frog by Frog Blog, but seeing as I’ve already taken my time, I thought I’d say: I have a lot of fun doing this. Even when it’s hard and I find myself wondering whether or not I should cut back on the detail or work at a different pace. I started this blog because I love to write but had been struggling to maintain it as a regular part of my life. I also started this blog because I always had essay ideas about the Mother series, but just didn’t know what to do with them all.

And through those two aspirations, this blog exists! And I’m writing again!

I always think my writing could be a little cleaner, a little more precise, a little more well-written over all, maybe include fewer exclamation points… but I’m letting go of that for now! If you’ve actually made it this far in this post, and this far in the blog, thank you for reading and for joining the journey. The best parts are yet to come.

Chapter 1 is nearly over, which is why I’m turning into a softy all of the sudden. I mentioned above that I revisited almost all the frogs we’ve saved at so far, but I wasn’t able to save my game because of my rules about not repeating frogs within a single chapter. Well, ironically enough, today’s frog was none other than the very first frog we saw in the entire game, way back in the Prologue.

And, because the Prologue and Chapter 1 are two distinct sections of the game, I’m allowed to save at this frog!

Thank god!

I see it as a fun little sign, in a way. After the longest, most difficult post of the blog, I’ve come back to where it all began: a good reminder to work at my own pace, to relax, to play more than I work. And at the same time, you really can never go home again. Last time we were here, Hinawa was still alive, and a family was intact.

And that’s a lesson to0, isn’t it? What was it Itoi said about save frogs? That no matter what kinds of bad things happen to us, everything will be okay as long as there’s a frog around. Because things can’t be so bad if there’s a frog nearby, right? Well, I don’t think that’s a terrible way to look at things, but I think Itoi would be hard-pressed to tell Flint not to worry right now. It might take a million save frogs and a million Tazmilians to fix this sad cowboy.

And for what it’s worth, please don’t think all my posts are going to be this long from here on out or anything! (Just today, August 4th, while proofreading this post, I wrote a frog that is fewer than 10 paragraphs long). I think this Frog was a special case, owed to Chapter 1’s story structure. Yes, we’ll have some long stretches again, but none like this, I think. With the combination of Hinawa’s death, one of the most iconic parts of the game, and the fallout of that event in Tazmily, and the frog disparity… add all that together, and you’ve got a mini frog novella on your hands.

Well, what’s ahead?

Down one path, there’s Argilla Pass, which the game doubly discourages the player to explore. “I know how you feel, but stay away,” says the sign. Obviously, I’m not going to take that kind of advice from a sign, even if it’s a good sign, so I pressed on forward… only to be told that there were ants by my feet, so I shouldn’t continue going that way. Things really do come full circle, don’t they?

Probably the most important update of all–more important than Hinawa’s death, than Claus’s nearly-suicidal mission–is that I found a new piece of astrological gear: the Aquarius Bracelet! It offers Defense +5, which isn’t too bad. Especially with a big boss fight coming up. Now, I’ll go into a long, detailed interpolation about why the Aquarius Bracelet should not be giving Defense, but should instead be increasing Flint’s IQ stat; When you think about Aquarius…

Oh, who am I kidding–it’s time to wrap this up.

Take care of yourself out there.

7 thoughts on “Frog #11: Night of the Funeral (Part 2)

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